Republican right attacks Bush and son

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The Independent Online
THE REPUBLICANS have began their campaign to wrest control of the White House from the Democrats with savage attacks on their real enemies: other Republicans.

George W Bush, Governor of Texas and son of the former president George Bush, is the front-runner, but plenty of other candidates for the Republican nomination in the 2000 Presidential election are emerging almost daily, and they have Mr Bush in their sights.

Two of the candidates, former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander and billionaire businessman Steve Forbes, laid into Mr Bush and his father this week as representatives of a failed "compassionate" conservativism who would betray the party again.

"Is Mr Bush trying to tell us that conservatism as a political philosophy, by his definition, is without compassion?" Mr Alexander asked. The venue was the Conservative Political Action Committee, a key forum for the party's right.

"We were betrayed" by Mr Bush Senior, said Mr Forbes before attacking the ex-president's son. "If we allow ourselves to be seduced by these mushy moderates, make no mistake: they will take us down to defeat once again."

Dan Quayle, president Bush's vice-president, has also come close to declaring his candidacy. "I want to be president," he said on CNN on Thursday night. "I think I'm the best qualified."

Mr Quayle, too, had a pop at Mr Bush. "I have ordered my staff to never - ever - utter the words `compassionate conservative'," he said. "This silly and insulting term was created by liberal Republicans and is nothing more than code for surrendering our principles."

Other possible or declared Republican candidates include Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, Congressman John Kasich of Ohio, Gary Bauer, a former Reagan official and Elizabeth Dole, wife of former candidate Robert Dole.

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